[Osmf-talk] Eligibility to vote for Wikipedia Foundation

80n 80n80n at gmail.com
Mon Aug 10 15:01:07 UTC 2009


There was a lot of discussion about this when the foundation was first
established.

We wanted to be as inclusive as possible.  There were discussions about
people who might want to support the foundation who were not actual
contributors, and how people from developing countries could afford any
significant membership fee, etc.

For the very first vote I recall that we set a £15 membership fee but also
allowed people to become members for no fee if they sent in a postcard.  The
intention being a very low barrier to entry.  The postcard scheme died out
as nobody ever submitted one.

Since then we have not revisit the subject.  There has been plenty of other
more important work to keep the Foundation very busy, and the current system
hasn't seemed especially broken, so it has stayed unchanged.  It's a simple
system and works reasonably well.

As far as liability goes, technically there is a guarantee that each member
would contribute a maximum £5 in the event that the Foundation became
insolvent.  If the Foundation was ever so badly run, financially, that that
were to happen then it would be the least of our problems.

Membership dues are not a major income source for OSMF but they do provide
an element of diversification and grass roots support.  Personally, I'd hate
to see us 100% reliant on donations from commercial sponsors.  Membership
dues may be more important for local chapters who may not have any other
income source at all when they first get started.

The purpose of OSMF is to support the OSM project.  It should represent the
views of the contributors as broadly as possible.  Automatic membership for
anyone who has made a certain number of contributions would broaden the
number of people that we claim to represent, but I don't know if it would
increase the number of people who actually cared enough to vote.

If the community feels this is something that ought to be revisited then we
should.

Etienne


On Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 2:36 PM, Peter Miller <peter.miller at itoworld.com>wrote:

>
> On 10 Aug 2009, at 14:13, Tom Hughes wrote:
>
> > On 10/08/09 11:22, Peter Miller wrote:
> >
> >> Fyi, I have just be emailed to say that I can vote to the Wikipedia
> >> Foundation Board of Trustees. I have never given them any money and
> >> have never consciously signed up to any foundation. I would strongly
> >> support a move to this sort of membership before the 2010 OSMF AGM.
> >
> > I'm not sure that is possible - the foundation is a Company Limited
> > by Guarantee as defined by the UK Companies Act. As such only those
> > people who are members of the company may vote for the directors of
> > the foundation (which is what the board is in law).
> >
> > The question would therefore be whether it is possible to make
> > membership free so that all contributors meeting certain criteria
> > can be deemed to be members.
> >
> > I suspect the problem with that will be question of the financial
> > guarantee that backs the limited liability status - currently that
> > guarantee is provided by the membership fees I believe. In other
> > cases of Companies Limited by Guarantee that I have seen it was done
> > by members agreeing to pay a small amount (one pound) if the company
> > went bust but there does need to be some sort of guarantee as I
> > understand things.
> >
>
> Thanks Tom,
>
> Possibly the foundation might like to respond to this at to these
> points to which I would have thought it should be possibly to find
> answers.
>
>
>
>
> Regards,
>
>
>
> Peter
>
>
> > Tom
> >
> > --
> > Tom Hughes (tom at compton.nu)
> > http://www.compton.nu/
>
>
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>
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